TUESDAY, 5TH JULY
We left Bennas with my father’s Mitsubishi at about 9 o’clock in the morning. The outdoor temperature was already around +26 degrees Celsius, so we had to prepare ourselves for a very hot day in the car. As most other cars in Finland we did not have any air-condition. Another “defect” with this car is that it does not have any CD-player, only cassette and radio. But luckily Stephen and I were already aware of this, and Stephen had recorded many cassettes in advance.
Stephen started as the driver, and drove all the way to Tampere, almost 400 kilometres. We took our first stop in Parkano, though, since we needed to refuel the car. The petrol station was situated by a beautiful lake, so we took the opportunity to take a few photos before we drove on.
When we arrived to Tampere we decided to take a break from the driving and go for a walk in the centre. Unfortunately we were only able to stay for about one hour, since we had to catch the ferry from Helsinki at 5pm. We walked along the main street to the centre, and took some photos there and in a nearby park at the river. Then we returned to the car and it was my turn to drive now, destination Helsinki.
We arrived a bit early to the harbour in Helsinki, so we parked the car and went for a walk in the harbour area and visited the orthodox Uspenski Cathedral. At around 4:30pm we drove onboard the catamaran Nordic Jet Line, which brought us to Tallinn, Estonia, in less than two hours.
Our first impression of Tallinn was that the traffic was hectic and chaotic, so we were happy that we had booked the first night at a hotel by the harbour, Reval Express (2 star hotel). But at the check-in desk we found out that the hotel had been overbooked, but the receptionist happily told us that we had been reserved a room at the 4-star hotel Reval Hotel Olympia instead. In a way we were lucky to get to a better hotel for the same price, but this also meant that we had to drive through the whole city centre in order to arrive to this hotel.
I am very glad that Stephen agreed to drive, because I was terrified in the traffic. After some problems finding the way (the streets seem to have been made randomly, there is no structure whatsoever), we finally arrived. We got a lovely room with a magnificent view. We rested a bit, took a shower and then we went out to find somewhere to eat dinner.
We walked around for quite a while, enjoying Tallinn by night, before we finally decided to eat at a restaurant at the main square. The food was good, but quite expensive. After the meal we continued to walk around, among other places we walked through the dark St. Catherine’s passage. Finally we ended up in a karaoke bar, drinking beer and Vodka cruiser. Karaoke seems to be very popular in Tallinn, a lot of people in the bar and good singers. When the bar closed we went to the hotel and had a good night’s sleep.
WEDNESDAY, 6TH JULY
The breakfast at Hotel Olympia was great, and we ate A LOT! Then we checked out, but were allowed to leave the car at the hotel’s car park a few more hours.
First we went to the tourist information in the centre, to get a list of hotels and to buy the Tallinn card. We then spent the rest of the morning searching for a cheaper hotel. After many phone calls and discussions we chose Lembitu hotel. I was quite sceptical at first, mostly because of the dull exterior and the receptionist. She was one of the least service-minded persons I have ever met, and we had quite big difficulties to communicate, since her English skills were very basic. But the room was ok, large and with a fridge. So my first impressions proved to be wrong, and we stayed there for three nights.
We wanted to start making use of our Tallinn card as soon as possible, so we decided to go for a guided tour. It started at 1pm from Viru hotel, and consisted of one hour by bus plus one and a half hours by walk. The bus took us first to Kadriorg Park, but we could not see very much of it, because there were large trees surrounding it. Then we passed by Pirita Beach and the St. Birgitta monastery. When we arrived to the Song Festival Grounds we got off the bus for a short while, to see the impressive area. We then drove back to the centre and went by walk through the Old Town. We also entered two churches; Alexander Nevski Cathedral and the Dome church. Stephen was not fond of the guided tour, since the guide was not very good at English, she had a strong accent which made it difficult to hear what she said.
When the tour finished we continued to walk around in the Old Town on our own. We found a nice spot with a wonderful view of the city, and we spent a long while there taking photos and enjoying the scenery.
We had dinner at a restaurant called Beer House (Stephen ordered a huge, 2 litre beer, and I was impressed that he managed to drink it all). The waiter had a bad day, apparently; for example he forgot our orders and we had to wait very long for the food.
Now it was starting to get time for some entertainment. After walking around the town we entered the night club Hollywood. It was Stephen’s kind of music, not bad actually. We danced a lot, and arrived back to Lembitu hotel very late.
THURSDAY, 7TH JULY
This day was dedicated to shopping. In the morning we walked to the centre of Tallinn, were we managed to find a trolley bus that took us to the shopping centre Kadaka Torg, situated in a suburb of Tallinn, called Mustamae. We walked around in many different kind of shops, and bought clothes, printer cartridges, photographic equipment, clothes to Ronja, candy, a watch etc. After several hours of shopping we took the tram back to the centre of Tallinn, and brought all our purchases to the hotel. We then walked to the centre and bought some souvenirs and other things from there.
FRIDAY, 8TH JULY
Yesterday evening when we were back in our hotel room at Lembitu hotel, we reviewed and tried out our purchases. Unfortunately Stephen found out that the jeans he had bought in a cheap shop at Kadaka Torg were the wrong size, they were far too small.
Therefore we decided that our first destination today would be Kadaka Torg at Mustamae, to try to change the trousers to a larger size. It was easier said than done to get to Kadaka Torg this morning. We easily found the right trolley bus, but after waiting around five minutes inside the trolley bus we realized something was wrong. It turned out there was no electricity, so we decided to try to find a traditional bus instead. We did not manage, and got a bit irritated since we felt we were waisting our precious time. However, a little while later we noticed that the trolley buses were working again, and we finally got on our way.
Luckily there was no problem to change the trousers, and I bought a Tallinn T-shirt as well. When we arrived back to the centre we immediately took the bus to Kadriorg park. We had a nice picnic in the outskirts of the huge park, and then we walked to the Kadriorg castle, which is situated in the middle of the park. The castle was built as a summer residence for the Russian ruler “Peter the Great”. The palace nowadays serves as a museum.
At first we admired the lovely palace garden, and saw two wedding celebrations. We then went inside and spent quite some time in the museum; impressive architecture and a lot of old, valuable items.
It was a very hot day, so we bought a very cheap ice-cream each, and enjoyed it near the large pond called “Swan Lake”. We had a very cosy rest here, in the shade of the trees. There were many birds near the pond, and Stephen fooled some pigeons to come near him, although he did not have any food for them. While sitting near the pond we saw two more wedding couples.
I was still feeling hot, so we walked to the nearby sandy beach Pirita. The water was really cold, but at least it was refreshing.
In the evening we went by bus to the TV tower, which is 314 metres tall. The view platform is at the height of 174 metres, and it was really a marvellous view. There is a restaurant in the tower, but unfortunately it was fully booked for the evening. However, we decided to come back for lunch the following day. After admiring the view of Tallinn in the evening sun we took the lift down, and took some photos of the beautiful stained glass in the entrance hall. We were lucky, because when we came down we saw a sign saying that the tower was now reserved and not open to the public for the rest of the evening. We had just made it in time, but we met a Norwegian couple with a baby that came too late. They were very disappointed, but we met them in the tower the following day, so at least they got to see the view.
It was not far by bus from the TV tower to the Song Festival Grounds, where a beer festival was being held. We accompanied A LOT of other people visiting the beer festival. We ate some junk food and drank beer (of course!), and enjoyed many different kinds of entertainment. There were many stages with various kind of music, dancing, bungy jumping etc. At around midnight we spent a little time listening to a popular Estonian band performing at the large stage, and then we took the bus back to the centre of Tallinn and walked to our hotel.
SATURDAY, 9TH JULY
We woke up for the last time in our dear room at Lembitu hotel. After the quite crappy breakfast we went for a walk, our first destination was a church near the hotel, which we had spotted from the trolley bus the previous day. It is called Kaarli church, but it was closed, so we were not able to see it from the inside.
When we continued our walk we passed by a statue taking a nap on the grass (Stephen joined in for a funny photo) and then we walked along the city wall until we reached St. Olaf’s church. We climbed up the 258 steps in the tower of the church, and had a magnificent view of all the Old Town and even the rest of Tallinn. We stayed in the tower for quite a while, taking photos of and looking at the view.
From the church we walked to the main square, where an interesting medieval market was taking place. We did not stay long though, since we had booked a table in the TV tower for 1pm. We made it in time, and had one of our best lunches ever. The food was really delicious (and the prices decent) and the breath-taking view was the cherry on the cake.
Satisfied and with full tummies we returned to Lembitu to pick up our car, and Stephen drove us out of Tallinn. It took us about two hours to reach the small town Virtsu on the west coast of Estonia, from where we took a ferry to the small island Muhu.
We decided to stop at a small village called Koguva, which is like a large outdoor museum, where the houses and environment have been kept the same way as they were long time ago. It was really like having been travelling back in time, strolling around in this peaceful, beautiful village. It was a very big contrast to the busy city of Tallinn, which we left just a few hours before.
After this peaceful break we drove across the bridge leading to Estonia’s largest island Saaremaa. We drove at least 60 kilometres, mostly through forest, before we arrived to the capital city of the island Saaremaa, namely Kuressaare. Before we arrived we stopped at a petrol station to wash the wind screen of the car, and at a shop to buy some groceries.
We tried to find a cheap hotel or cottage, and drove to a camping site about 10 kilometres from the centre of Kuressaare. But we were not patient enough to wait in the queue, so we drove back (missed the sunset ) and decided to sleep in the car at a car park near the Kuressaare castle.
The castle silhouette was very beautiful in the night, and we walked near it to eat some bread, fruit etc that we had bought earlier. We heard some strange shouting from the castle garden, and found some youngsters dressed in medieval clothes singing/shouting together. The following day we found out these youngsters had taken part in a medieval tournament called “castle days”. Anyway, we sat on a hill near the castle looking down at the people in the castle garden, until it was time for us to go to sleep. It was no problem to sleep in the car, maybe since we were tired after a long day.
SUNDAY, 10TH JULY
We woke up at around 8am, after a fairly good night’s sleep in the car. Our breakfast was a few biscuits, we sat in the grass near the car eating it and waking up. Then we walked towards the castle, to take a closer look at it in day light. Like any fairy tale castle the Kuressaare castle is surrounded by a moat, protecting it from enemies. There is a bridge though, so we could safely reach the castle grounds. We walked around in the grounds, among other things we were impressed by the entrance to the castle, guarded by cannons and a scary, iron gate. As soon as the castle museum opened we eagerly entered.
We stayed inside the castle for more than two hours, there were so many interesting things to see. We saw many different kinds of exhibitions, for example a nature exhibition with many stuffed animals (moose, wolf, owl, etc) and an exhibition of old tools, furniture and clothes. We also saw the castle chapel with an interesting altar painting showing the crowning of St. Mary. Stephen found the painting funny, and laughed at it in front of some high priest. What I found most fascinating was just wandering around in the many rooms, imagining what life was like in the old days. We saw some proof that the bishop who lived in the castle was not as kind and loving as you would expect from a man of the church, since there was a skeleton of an immured knight and a lion hole.
In the end of our tour inside the castle we went up on the roof, enjoying the view. We also enjoyed the view from the cafeteria, where we had some very good ice-cream.
After spending a long time at the castle we went to explore the centre of Kuressaare. We found out there was not so much to explore, since the town is very small. But we found a shopping centre (Stephen bought a pair of shoes), the town hall and a small church in great need of restoration. We ate pizza for lunch at the main square, and then we left Kuressaare.
Our next destination was the meteoric crater in Kaali, but on our way there we made a quick stop at Puha church. The crater lake at Kaali was very interesting, and we walked around it trying to fit it all in a photo. We had planned to play football at a nearby field, but it was too hot.
We drove on to yet another tourist attraction on the island Saaremaa: the Angla windmills. One of the most important symbols of Saaremaa is in fact windmills, and in Angla there are five well-kept mills. There was also a large playing field, with constructions of wood for the children to play with.
The end destination for this interesting day was Panga, situated at the cliffs in the north part of Saaremaa. We had booked part of a cottage at Panga guesthouse, a very cosy, peaceful place, surrounded by nature. Actually both Stephen and I agreed that this was the best accommodation we had during our whole trip, including the 4 star hotel in Tallinn. When we arrived to Panga we took a well needed shower, then we were served dinner at the table outside. After the meal we took the cameras and some beer/cider and went out on the cliffs to see the sunset. It was very beautiful, and we got some good photos. We also took a funny photo in the cottage before going to sleep.
MONDAY, 11TH JULY
After a perfect sleep we had breakfast in the main building. We talked with a Swedish woman, who was on a biking holiday with a quite large group of Swedes. When this group left we were almost alone at the guesthouse. We decided to play some football in a small field behind the cottages, and we had really fun, although we got exhausted in the heat.
A shower was definitely needed, and then we drove off towards the mainland. We made one final stop on the Saaremaa island, namely at the Maasilinn castle near Orissaare. From the outside I was a bit disappointed when I saw the castle, because it was just ruins. But Stephen convinced me to walk down the stairs to the underground, and there we found beautiful vaults that had recently been restored. When we walked back from the castle towards the car, Stephen spotted a beautiful dragonfly, blue with black stripes. It was a real challenge for Stephen to get a good photo of the dragonfly, because many tourists walked by and scared it. But at last he managed, and the result was very good.
We took the ferry back to Virtsu, and drove south along the coastline of Estonia. At around 4pm we arrived to Parnu, and we immediately drove to a beach there, because I was feeling very hot and desperately wanted to swim in the sea. We found a beach that seemed popular, but when we approached it we saw a sign saying that it was a “Ladies beach”. We were a bit confused by the sign, but when we looked around us we realized we did not see a single man. I suggested to Stephen that we would go to another beach, but he did not feel like swimming anyway, so he waited for me in a park while I went to the beach. It was a large beach with lots of women, most of them either naked or topless. It felt quite strange with all these naked people around me, but at least I got my desired swim.
Back in the centre of Parnu we walked around for about one hour, seeing churches and other sights. Souvenirs and also other things seemed quite expensive, so we did not buy anything (except for a candle holder made of clay).
Then we continued driving south, and crossed the boarder to Latvia near the town Ainazi. We did not have any Latvian money, so when we arrived to the next town, Salacgriva, we stopped in order to search for an ATM. We found a tourist information office, but it was closed since it was already past 8pm. We walked around in the town and saw a church. A hotel was situated near the church, and I went there to ask where to find the closest ATM. It was not far away, and we immediately used some of the money buying candy.
On a traffic sign we saw that Riga is exactly 100 kilometres away from Salacgriva, and we decided to drive a bit closer to Riga, although it was already quite late. Luckily Stephen is used to staying up late, so he did not mind driving.
In Saulkrasti we saw a sign about a camping site, and we drove there. The cottage they showed us was very small and primitive, but we accepted it. We ate an omelette in the cafeteria and then we hurried down to the beach to see the sunset. We did not stay up very late, since we wanted to have a good rest before our day in Riga the following day.
TUESDAY, 12TH JULY
We were eager to arrive to Riga, so we woke up early and left the camping site without even having breakfast. We visited the tourist information in Saulkrasti, and they gave us some valuable tips regarding accommodation and shopping in Riga. We saw the Peterupes Lutheran church in Saulkrasti before we drove to Riga.
When we were approaching Riga we realized that Riga is larger than Tallinn, and there were lots of traffic. Again, I was happy that Stephen was driving…
Before arriving to the centre of Riga we stopped at the huge shopping centre Alfa, which the lady in the tourist information office in Saulkrasti had recommended. Now we finally had our breakfast: cappuccino and apple pie. Just after visiting a few shops in the Alfa complex we realized that the prices were much lower in Latvia than in Estonia. We liked the shopping centre so much that we decided to return another day, since we needed to find a hotel and could therefore just spend a few hours at Alfa this day. But we still had time to buy quite a lot.
We called some hotels from a phone booth at the shopping centre, and we found a 3 star hotel with reasonable prices situated near the centre. They only had one room available, and only for two nights (not for three as we wanted), but we still decided to take it. The name of the hotel was Valdemars Hotel.
The main road leading to Riga centre seemed endless, I don’t know how many kilometres we drove, but at last we arrived and found the hotel quite easily. Finding parking was a bit more difficult, but we managed. Once we had checked in we moved the car to a guarded car park, subsidised by the hotel.
We had a short rest in our noisy room (with a main road just below our window) and a cold shower (it took about ten minutes before warm water started to run from the tap). So now we were ready to explore Riga!
The impressive Freedom Monument was the first sight we spotted, situated at a large square just outside the old city. We crossed the city canal bridge and were amazed by all the beautiful houses in the old Riga. We passed by an outdoor market, where a lot of souvenirs and craft were being sold. I bought a beautiful, heart-shaped necklace, made of amber.
We soon arrived to the town hall square, where we spent a long time admiring the old town hall building and the House of Blackheads. Not to mention the stunning St. Peter’s church with its high tower. We continued walking, and while crossing Akmen’s bridge over Daugava river we had a very good view over the old city. On the other side of Daugava is the new part of Riga, but it mostly consists of residential areas, so we quickly turned around.
It was dinner time now, and after checking many menus we decided to try a restaurant called “Alus seta”. It turned out to be a very good choice, both for our stomachs and for our wallets. It was an interesting, buffet-kind of restaurant, where you filled your plate according to your own choice, and paid according to the weight. We ate a big and very good meal, we even had dessert. Actually I had two desserts, because I did not like my first choice. Stephen then pretended to go to the bathroom, and when he returned he gave me another dessert (a very delicious one this time).
We did not feel like going back to the hotel yet, so we went to a cocktail bar that we had seen earlier. Stephen ordered a balsams-based drink, and I had “Sex on the beach”. The cocktails were huge, very tasty and not very expensive. So why not take another one?! For Stephen a watermelon-rum drink and for me “Bounty”, one of the best drinks I have ever tasted!
In a very good mood we left the bar, and enjoyed seeing Riga by night. We arrived back to our hotel at around 2am, very satisfied with our first day in Riga.
WEDNESDAY, 13TH JULY
It was almost 10am when we went for breakfast, due to the late evening the previous day. Since we were so late there was not a wide selection left on the breakfast table. After eating we had to move our things to the luggage room, since we were going to get another room in the afternoon.
On our way towards old Riga we saw the Russian Orthodox church, and decided to go and have a closer look at it. The church was currently being restored, so it was not very beautiful from the outside, and we only took one photo.
The interior of the church was extremely beautiful, with a lot of icons. Stephen of course wanted to take some photos, but then an angry-looking nun immediately approached him and said it is not allowed to take photos inside the church. However, she would permit him to take two photos if he gave a small donation to the church, or if he bought some icons or postcards. I really do not like this commercialization of church, and I am sure Jesus does not, either. Anyway, we got our photos together with some small icons, and in the end we had a nice chat with the nun.
From the church we walked to old Riga, and strolled around there for a while, before we continued to the central market, which is Europe’s second largest market. It is really huge and you can find almost anything there, especially with regards to food: fresh meat, fish, bread, fruit, vegetables, candy, biscuits, honey… you name it. Stephen ate a few sausages and we bought honey, but otherwise we just looked at all the products and people.
The large warehouse Stockmann is situated near the central market, and from there I bought two pairs of sunglasses. Then we went by tram to our favourite shopping centre Alfa, where we bought as much as we could carry with us. Stephen almost emptied the Tom Tailor shop… . Even I bought some clothes, and we bought a tent and a sleeping bag.
When we arrived back to the hotel we were exhausted from the carrying, and we took a well-deserved rest. In the evening we walked to the centre as usual, and we were actually tempted to eat at the same restaurant as the previous evening. But in the end we decided to try a new place, namely a restaurant named “Salt ‘n pepper”. The food was good, but the service so and so, and it was a bit too cold to sit outside. We walked around a bit in the centre, and then back to the hotel, since we were tired after a lot of walking and shopping.
THURSDAY, 14TH JULY
After breakfast the receptionist of our hotel still did not know if there would be a room available for us for the coming night. We left the luggage in the luggage room and walked to the centre. On our way we saw an internet cafe, and we decided to go inside to send some sms:s/emails and check our bank accounts. Then we hurried to the town hall square, and we made it in time to take part in a guided tour around old Riga.
We were lucky, because the guide was very good, and we were a small group, just four other tourists, all of them from USA. The guide told us about the history of the buildings at the town hall square, and then we walked around most of the old city (for example The Philharmonic square, the Swedish quarters, the Dome’s square and many interesting buildings. In the end of the tour we visited The Museum of the Barricades, where we saw photos and part of a video film documenting the period before the Baltic States became independent from Russia.
After the tour Stephen and I felt hungry, and we found a cosy restaurant near the Dome church. We ate the main course outside, and we finished it just in time before it started to rain. The dessert menu was very tempting, so we moved inside and ate delicious pancakes with honey (Stephen) and jam (Malin).
When we left the restaurant the rain had stopped. We wanted to see Riga from above, for which purpose the St. Peter’s church is ideal. A lift took us high up in the tower, and the view was really impressive. We saw many churches, the TV tower, the huge building used by the science academy, Daugava river, etc. Many photos and some filming later we went down from the tower, and walked around in St. Peter’s church. There was an exhibition about wooden churches, otherwise the church was quite plain. Behind the altar was a large statue of Jesus, which we both liked. While we sat on a bench admiring the statue, a woman came to let us know that the church was closing, and we had to leave.
To avoid another rain shower we took a coffee inside a cafeteria near the church. We saw a skilled painter in action, painting St. John’s church.
We walked some more, but this day we went early back to the hotel, because I had a sore throat and felt a bit feverish. We were happy that Valdemars hotel had a room available for us.
FRIDAY, 15TH JULY
Our last day in Riga started with a walk to St. Gertrude’s church. We went inside the church and also admired the nearby building, a large pink building used by the Ministry of Economy.
There were a few more things we wanted to buy, so the next few hours we visited different shops. We bought some clothes, souvenirs, etc. Then we went one last time to the Dome church and walked along the main street to give our last Latvian coins to some of the beggars. As usual the dancing old lady was there, but unfortunately we did not find the beggar with the rodent. We also gave a few coins to two girls playing the national instrument of Latvia.
After picking up our luggage from the hotel we drove out of Riga. We stopped at Alfa shopping centre to buy some fruit and biscuits, and continued to drive towards Estonia. When we arrived to a place called Sigulda we took a break and had picnic in a park near the railway station.
We kept on driving, and after a bit of confusion near the town Valmiera (because of some road constructions) we crossed the boarder to Estonia in the town Valka.
The plan was to drive to a camping site at Otepaa, but we did not manage to find a single one. Therefore we continued driving to until we reached Tartu, the second largest town of Estonia.
It was already quite late in the evening, and the tourist information was closed. We walked around in the centre and asked for prices in some hotels, but they were all very expensive. We also asked for example a taxi driver if there are some camping sites nearby, but no one seemed to know. At this stage we even considered to put up our tent in a small park and sleep there.
However, we found a city map and decided to walk to Tartu hotel and try our luck there. They had rooms available, and although it was not cheap we still decided to take it. We walked back for our car and then we checked in. The room was quite small, but otherwise very good. We went for a short walk and took some photos of Tartu by night before we went to sleep.
SATURDAY, 16TH JULY
Before we went out to explore Tartu we had a good breakfast and checked our emails on a computer in the hotel lobby. We checked out but left the car safely at the hotel’s car park.
Tartu is quite a small town, and does not have many sights. The main attraction is the cute, pink town hall building, and a romantic fountain in the square in front of the town hall. Tartu is well-known for its university, and many students live here. After walking around in the centre including a visit to St. John’s church (Jaani kirik) we went to the botanical garden.
We both really liked the botanical garden, and we took many photos. There were many kinds of flowers, and also a small artificial lake. We found a romantic place to sit for a while, namely a bench imbedded in greenery. Another favourite part of the garden was the exhibition of roses. There were many types of roses in various colours, and in this part of the garden there was even live music.
On our way back to the car we walked along Tartu river. Then we drove away from Tartu, destination Tallinn. We now really wanted to try our new tent, so we decided to go to Kalevi Camping next to the TV tower. The area of the camping was surprisingly small, but we managed to find a suitable spot for our tent. We are both beginners when it comes to putting up a tent, so it took us quite a while. Our timing was perfect though, because as soon as the tent was assembled it started to rain. We stayed cosy in the tent for a while, and then Stephen wanted to take a shower. But he discovered that the showers were in very bad shape and dirty, so he changed his mind.
The rain ceased, and after some hesitation we decided to take the bus to the centre of Tallinn, despite the risk of getting wet. We bought some drinks from a supermarket and chose to eat at the restaurant Bakuu. We were both tired and after the meal we went straight back to the camping site to sleep.
SUNDAY, 17TH JULY
It was still raining when we woke up, and we did not feel like walking around in Tallinn all day in the rain. We packed our things in the car and left the camping site. Then we spent almost all morning at the harbour, trying to change our ferry ticket so that we could travel back to Finland immediately, and not the following day as planned. But it turned out that there was no space for the car on any of the ferries, so we would have to spend one more night in Tallinn.
Therefore, our next project was to find accommodation for the night. We considered Lembitu hotel, but decided to try to find a place closer to the harbour, in order to avoid the hassle of driving through the centre of Tallinn. We went to the nearby office of a bed&breakfast agency, and she managed to find a place for us, but did not agree when we wanted to have a look at the place before making up our minds. We were a bit sceptical, and in the end we chose a more expensive but safer alternative: a double room at Reval Express Hotel.
By now we were very hungry, so immediately after check-in we went to the hotel restaurant to eat a soup buffet. We ate many kinds of soup and a lot of bread. After the meal we had a long rest in our hotel room and a shower.
We had seen some posters advertising a “Club Dance Festival” in the Song Festival Grounds, and we went there despite the very dark clouds in the sky. It turned out to be a good decision, because we really had fun at the festival. It was less people than at the beer festival the previous week, but some of the dance floors were still quite crowded. Stephen quickly found his favourite dance floor, and to my surprise I really liked to dance to that music, too! It felt a bit like meditating, I now understand why the music is called trance. We stayed at the festival almost until midnight, when we had to leave in order to catch the last bus. On the walk back to the hotel we got lost, and it took us almost an hour to arrive.
MONDAY, 18TH JULY
We woke up quite early, in order for Stephen to take a few, last photos of Tallinn, and for me to buy the last presents for our family and friends.
The ferry departed from Tallinn at 10:15am, and we arrived to Helsinki around noon. I drove the first part, namely from Helsinki to Jyvaskyla. Just before arriving to Jyvaskyla we stopped for lunch at a restaurant beautifully situated near a long bridge at a large lake. We ate fish, a very good and suitable dish at this place.
In Jyvaskyla we spent about one hour, walking in the centre and visiting the church and a nearby park.
Stephen drove from Jyvaskyla all the way to Bennas. He saved us quite a lot of time by his fast driving on the almost deserted roads, but we were a bit worried about receiving a speed ticket by mail sent to us. But luckily our worries were all in vain.
We arrived to Bennas at around 9pm, and very tired I went to bed almost immediately. Stephen still had energy left to stay by the computer for a while.
Although tired we were very satisfied with our trip, and thanks to many photos and video clips we have a memory for life.